How do you see suffering?

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Job 33:4 (NIV)

Read: Job 33:1-33

Consider: In earlier posts we looked at Job and the advice given by his friends (Eliphaz, Bildad and Zopher) to the situation in which Job found himself. Their view was that Job’s suffering was the result of some sin(s) committed in the past and if only he would repent he would be restored by God.

Job chapter 32 introduces a fourth person into the discussion who has been sitting quietly listening to the debate between Job and his friends. We are told that Elihu is much younger than the others and held back because he was deferring to their age. However, when he could contain himself no longer he became angry (32:2; 32:3; 32:5) and began to give Job his insights into the situation.

It would be wrong of us to presume that everything Elihu says is untrue; his speech contains many truths about God. Don’t be put of by the length of Elihu’s speech (six chapters). It is particularly useful to read all of it (32:1-37:24) and to note the eternal truths it contains. Although Elihu’s speech contains many truths, it is not the whole truth. Remember that earlier Job’s friends expressed the view that suffering is God’s judgement for sin. Elihu puts forward the idea that suffering is God’s way to teach, discipline and refine his people and must be the result of some present sin. While there is an element of truth in what he says (that suffering can teach, discipline and refine us), suffering is not an instrument God uses as a tool to chastise mankind. Can you see the difference between God initiating suffering and him using suffering positively in a person’s life to make that person more Christlike? In Romans 5:3-4 it says: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. This reinforces the overall message of Job that bad things can happen to righteous people and that suffering is not evidence of sin in a person’s life.

This is what Paul says about troubles and hardship in Romans 8:35, 37-39 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord

Pray: Father, may we keep suffering in perspective; knowing that you have not caused it, but can use it to your glory. Amen

Every blessing

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